Elizabeth Holmes’ much-delayed trial is finally set to start on Tuesday, where the Theranos founder will go to court on multiple accounts of scamming and defrauding investors. Court filings unsealed over the weekend revealed a new set of evidence, however, claiming that Elizabeth Holmes’ former boyfriend and business partner, Ramesh Balwani, put her through a “decade-long campaign of psychological abuse.”
According to Elizabeth Holmes, Ramesh Balwani “controlled what [Holmes] ate, how she dressed, and how much money she could spend, who she could interact with – essentially dominating her and erasing her capacity to make decisions.”
Holmes’ Attorneys also alleged that the former Theranos vice-chair, COO, and president, regulated her sleep, monitored where she went and conditioned her to believe that “any success she achieved was because of him.”
In 2016, The Wall Street Journal ran a number of pieces of whistleblowers detailing Theranos’ fraud. It also uncovered that the company’s medical devices did not work as advertised. Subsequently Theranos laid off roughly 500 employees before dissolving the company, with Holmes and Balwani separating soon after.
According to Holmes’ Attorneys, Elizabeth is “likely to testify herself to the reasons why she believed, relied on and deferred to Mr. Balwani,” citing her decade of emotional abuse. It was rumored last week that there would be a rare “trauma defense” and that her judgment was affected because of her relationship with her partner.
The unsealed evidence detailed that a part of Holmes’ defense will rely on the new allegations. It asserts that Ramesh Balwani’s abuse led her to help him defraud investors and miss the acute failings of Theranos’ blood-testing device.
“This is what happens when you work to change things,” Holmes said on CNBC’s Mad Money back in 2015. “First they think you’re crazy, then they fight you, and then all of the sudden you change the world.”
“I have to say, I personally was shocked,” she continued. “We’re working to make a difference, and that means people raise questions.”
Both Holmes and Ramesh Balwani have denied the charges against them by the U.S. Department of Justice, with Ramesh Balwani calling Holmes’ latest allegations against him, “deeply offensive.”
His attorney said that the allegations were “devastating personally,” and only hurt Ramesh Balwani’s chances when he appears separately in court the following year.
Prosecutors for the case claimed that Elizabeth created a smoke-and-mirrors campaign that made it seem to investors, medical professionals, and customers, that she had done the impossible by creating a rapid blood-testing device that could detect cancers in the body. In reality, the device had never been built, and Holmes went to extremes to stage demonstrations that were based on complete fabrications and lies.
At the time, Forbes estimated Elizabeth Holmes’ net worth to be at $3.9 billion, with Theranos valued at $9 billion.
The trial on Tuesday will begin with jury selection and will likely last through Thanksgiving before a verdict is read. Holmes reportedly is very concerned with jury selection and has prepared 100 questions for potential jurors to answer before they might be selected for the trial.
According to Holmes’ lawyers, they “have proposed the queries for potential jurors in a 45-page form submitted this week to the federal judge overseeing her trial.” Questions vary, according to The Wall Street Journal, from if they’ve ever posted an opinion on social media, to if they’ve ever taken certain kinds of medication.
Postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic and then the birth of her child in July, opening arguments will finally be read on Sep. 8 in a federal court in San Jose, Ca. Holmes was originally charged way back in 2018. If convicted, Elizabeth Holmes could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.